1215 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch (If You Know Someone in MKO, You're a Criminal). There seems to be a pattern in a number of recent sentences, including death penalties. As we reported yesterday, six people have been handed down orders for execution because they are related to or acquainted with members of the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran, the political wing of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq "terrorist" movement.
An Iranian activist now reports that Monireh Rabaei has received a five-year sentence, upheld on appeal, on the basis that she has an uncle in Camp Ashraf in Iraq, home to many PMOI members. The following sentences have also been passed on the basis of "connections with MKO": Zia Nabavi 15 years, Ozra Ghazi-Mirsaied three years, and Mahdiyeh Golro 28 months.
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1115 GMT: Economy Watch. Rooz Online's claims of layoffs are not quite as dramatic as those in the Human Rights Activists report (see 1100 GMT), but they are still striking:
Labor news sources report the laying off of at least 2,500 industrial and leather workers in Ilam and Mashad. Counting other laid-off workers in industrial and large cities such as Abadan, Ahwaz, Khorramshahr and Shiraz, during the last two weeks, more than 4,000 workers have lost their jobs just in the recent past.
...The crisis in Iran’s industrial sector has reached such a level that, in an interview yesterday, the head of Iran’s House of Labor predicted the closure of hundreds of large and medium industrial firms per year and the subsequent laying off of 200,000 workers every year after that.
1100 GMT: Firings and Abuses. Human Rights Activists in Iran has released a report claimed more than 38,000 cases of firings and human rights abuses in Iran in the past month.
Of the cases, more than 90% (37,519) are the layoffs of workers in Iran, as 166 production lines in the country have been shut down every month, according to a labour official. At least 11 protests and gatherings have been staged by workers in the country in the last month alone.
The group cites 537 cases of abuse of students’ rights, 255 cases of abuse against political and civil activists, 34 cases of capital punishment, 259 cases of torture and prisoner abuse, at least seven cases of citizens killed in frontier provinces, 124 arrests and abuse of national minority rights, and 68 cases of arrest and abuses against religious minorities.
Human Rights Activists says that, because of the scale of the abuses and the difficulties in documenting them in a rigid security atmosphere, the cases are only a fraction of the abuses that are occurring.
1055 GMT: Is Google A Regime Enemy? The Iranian Labor News Agency reports that a ban on Google Images has been lifted by Iranian authorities, 24 hours after it was imposed.
1045 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Women’s rights activist Dorsa Sobhani has been released after a detention of more than six weeks. Sobhani spent 25 days in solitary confinement.
The brother of Majid Tavakoli says that the student leader, detained on 7 December after a speech at a National Student Day rally, remains in solitary confinement.
Student activist Nader Ahsani has been re-arrested and taken to Evin Prison.
1040 GMT: "We Had to Save the System". A potentially explosive admission....
Aftab, from the weekly Panjareh, quotes an unnamed high-ranking intelligence official, who admits that post-election arrests, especially those of the first round of senior reformists, were planned ahead of the 12 June vote.
The detentions were a preventive measure because Iranian intelligence agencies anticipated major unrest which could get out of control. The official said, "Our law is not appropriate to fight against 'soft war', so we had to take these measures [to save the system]. The fifth statement of Mosharekat party [Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution] clearly speaks of establishing a secular system."
1030 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. On another front, Mehdi Hashemi, the son of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, has warned the regime to "stop spreading lies" and to "beware of the time, when I speak out". Hashemi, who is currently in London, has been threatened by the Iranian authorities with prosecution for alleged corruption and misuse of funds during the Presidential election.
0945 GMT: After an extended break, we return today to a series of powerful responses to the regime, all of which make clear that the challenge to legitimacy will not be crushed.
In a separate entry, we have posted the latest statement of Grand Ayatollah Sane'i, criticising the Government for its misuse of Islam in its lies and detentions.
We also have a second feature: from inside Evin Prison, the detained journalist and filmmaker Mohammad Nourizad has written a letter to the Supreme Leader requesting that he "declare this year the year of national reconciliation and do not fear the reproach". In itself, that is not a direct challenge to the regime --- it acknowledges Khamenei's authority, after all --- however, the letter has special potency because Nourizad's detention was prompted by a previous appeal to the Supreme Leader to recognise the illegitimacies of the election.
Mohsen Armin, member of Parliament and former Vice Speaker, has also launched a spirited criticism of the Government. A senior member of the Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution party, which is now under threat of suspension, Armin denounced lies and threats of prosecution and demanded that the regime address the basic issues of rights and equality.
MP Mohammad Reza Khabbaz has asserted that the inability of the Ahmadinejad Government to make appropriate use of $370 billion oil income is a "catastrophe".